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A Must See Stop in Franconia Notch - The Basin
Written: Aug 24, 2007 (Updated Aug 24, 2007)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:No admission fee, Easy access, Beautiful, Rustic, Natural
Cons:Can be very crowded on weekends
The Bottom Line: With a short walk from the parking areas, you can see where the Pemigewasset River has carved into the solid stone creating small flumes and The Basin right below them
If you are traveling through Franconia Notch in northern New Hampshire and youre looking for a site to stop at that offers you a chance to stretch your legs and explore the glacial history of the state, then a stop at The Basin might be perfect for you.
A great stop for about an hour or so for people traveling through the Notch, the Basin area also accesses a number of other trails that travel through Franconia Notch, which make it a starting point for further adventures.
The basin is a glacial pothole that was created during the end of the last ice age when lots more water was running through Franconia Notch. The action of the water and the stones in the water ended up wearing down a hole into the rock and today you have a waterfall plunging into the pothole, which is an almost circular pool about 20 feet in diameter.
Where is it?
The Basin is accessed from pull-offs and parking lots that are available on both directions on Interstate 93 as it passes through Franconia Notch. The Basin is towards the southern end of Franconia Notch, between the Lafayette Campground to the North and the Flume to the south. Both parking lots are of a good size and unless its a very busy holiday weekend, you should be able to find parking without too much of a problem.
For those parking on the northbound side of the highway you follow a path beneath the highway and come out into the parking lot for the southbound side of the highway. From there, the Basin is a short walk.
Besides some privies and some picnic tables, there are no services at either parking lot or at The Basin itself.
The Basin is part of Franconia Notch State Park, which also includes attractions such as The Flume and the Cannon Mountain Tram.
The Basin is a free attraction of the State Park, there are no fees associated with it.
Getting down to The Basin
From the parking lot, a series of improved trails make their way around the area of The Basin. The parking lots are located about 200 yards or so to the north of the actual Basin and there are two major trails one that crosses the river and makes its way down to the Basin and another (which is actually the Bike Path through Franconia Notch) which makes its way more gently along the river and provides a viewpoint of The Basin. This is also the handicapped access route to The Basin. The other route is partially accessible, but it gets quite steep and it would be hard for someone who is handicapped to either make it down or back up.
The best time of the year to visit The Basin is in the summertime, though it is open year round. The problem with visits during the off-season is that snow and ice builds up around the area and it makes it very difficult to get down to The Basin without crampons or other gear.
The walk either along the bike path to the view point or down along the other side of the river isnt that long. It wont take more than about 5 minutes of walking. Both of the trails are paved and easy to walk along its just that the trail that crosses the river does get quite steep in places. If you dont mind the steepness, this is a really nice walk because it follows the river down as it makes its way down through some rock formations before getting to The Basin. In one spot the river spills down through a small flume, which in high water can be really neat to watch.
Youre really here for the scenic beauty of The Basin and beyond an interpretive sign describing how it was formed and some history of the area, there isnt that much right around The Basin.
This area is usually fairly crowded, especially on weekends, which can make it hard to approach the railing that surrounds The Basin and get a really good look. Its best to wait until you can get a good view though, since it is something of a natural marvel. The Pemigewasset River comes tumbling over a waterfall into The Basin and the clear water of The Basin swirls around before it exits and makes it way south down through the rest of Franconia Notch.
Theres really no bad time to see The Basin when it is snow and ice free, however my favorite time has to be right after a heavy rain. The Pemigewasset River fills to its banks and roars down the rock formations before The Basin and then it pours into The Basin, where the water rotates rapidly and you can really see the whirlpool motion that formed it many eons ago. Not only that, the roaring from the water all around you is very impressive.
There are a number of hiking trails that radiate out away from The Basin area or pass through the area. From The Basin you can walk or bike on the Franconia Notch Bike Path which runs the length of the Notch. Theres also foot trails that run through the notch and another trail climbs up the eastern side of the Notch to a series of waterfalls that isnt too far. I would suggest getting a copy of the Appalachian Mountain Clubs White Mountain Guide. This book will give you maps and descriptions of all the trails in the area if you are looking to extend your trip beyond The Basin.
I almost never drive through Franconia Notch without stopping at The Basin, even if its only to stretch my legs. I love following the river down through the stones and then getting to see it pour into The Basin. Its a treat every time. Not only that, its a great stop when you have people who havent been in the area before and who want to see some of the natural beauty of the area. I always make sure to take them along the paths to The Basin.
If you are vacationing in the area or you are traveling along Interstate 93 in Franconia Notch, it would be well worth your time to stop for a bit at The Basin.
With just a short walk from the parking areas, you can see the power and the beauty of nature where the Pemigewasset River has carved into the solid stone creating small flumes and The Basin right below them.
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Best Time to Travel Here: Jun - Aug